Who can Stop City Oilers – Club by Club Guide

Fayed Bbaale, City Oilers’ crown Jewel. (Tony Kamau photo)

Eleven teams are on a mission impossible to dethrone City Oilers who after few steps into the new season, look nothing indomitable.

The Oilers have won the last eight National Basketball League titles, and the pending ninth might be the easiest they have won.

Mande Juruni’s side has assembled a squad which many onlookers partly agree that it’s their best roster ever.

We breakdown how and where the rest of the division stand:

The Real Contenders

KIU Titans

Storyline: Can The New challengers Live As Advertised?

With new signings at KIU Titans, its understandable for the Basketball fraternity to brand the Kansanga-based side as the new challengers to Oilers’ throne.

The additions start with former Blazers trio of Amisi Saidi, Peter Obleng and Collins Kasujja while guard Innocent Ochera joins from Power.

Last year’s semifinalists retained a core of their players including Stanley Mugerwa, Joseph Chuma and Fidel Okoth among others.

And how coaches Julius Lutwama and his assistant Raymond Muhumuza assemble these pieces, will determine the team’s ceiling. Their biggest undoing in their opening loss against Oilers was lack of a natural elite Point Guard given that Kasujja and Ochera were both makeshifts. Joel Lukoji Is a pure talent and impressed against Rezlife, and he might be the game changer. And with a possibility of adding more pieces in the mid-season transfer window, you never know what might come out of Kansanga.

Squad – Edgar Munaaba, Brian Opiyo, Ahmed Kassa, Stanley Mugerwa, Isaiah Mabeny, Amisi Carmelo, Innocent Ochera, Peter Obleng, Joseph Chuma, Okoth Fidel, Henry Okoth, Joel Lukoji, Collins Kasujja

UCU Canons

Storyline: From Scratch again
It’s unfortunate that UCU are building stars for other teams to benefit after the departure of Fayed Baale and Titus Lual to join rivals City Oilers, and the duo will be pointing guns at their former teacher. Such is the story of an education institution where players will always leave after Graduation. Coach Nicholas Natuhereza had built a good force, a golden generation of sorts that had the likes of Fayed, Titus, Dikong, Chuma etc, and just like that team of 2015, all they have to show is NBL silver.
The rebuilding process has seen the institute bring in some kids from school including Norbert Okidi from Buddo, Marvin Jesse from Kibuli, Solomon Olara (just like Jesse played for Junior Silverbacks at Zone V),
Zachariah Ekipapa from Lower Division Side Emperors and Elungat Okise Emma. But the good news is that there is a good chore to build around that include Peter Sifuma, Sudi Ulanga, Jerry Kayanga, Ibanda Lwabaga, Dauna Johnbaptist among others. Trust the Canons, under one of the best coach in the division, to improve each passing day, and they can go all the way if they can avoid Oilers until the final. But their ceiling will be higher if Kayanga and Sifuma take on responsibilities.

Squad – Abraham Isyagi, Sudi Ulanga, Kevin Kasobya, Ibanda Lwabaga, Jesse Okurut, Dauna John Baptist, Makuel Apuol, Solomon Olara, Joel Kayiira, Jerry Samson, Emmanuel Elungat, Ekirapa Zacnariah, Albert Waswa, Vincent Mubiru, Peter Sifuma, Brian Otim, Norbert Okidi

Namuwongo Blazers

Storyline: How Healthy are New-looking Blazers?
It’s going to be hard for Blazers to be competitive as they were last season after losing a couple of key pieces. The trio of Collins Kasujja, Saidi ‘Carmelo’ Amisi and Peter Obleng moved to rivals KIU while the Kenyan duo of Ken Wachira, Ariel Okall and David Deng Dikong left the country, among other exits. The additions leave a lot to be desired. There was excitement when the Club announced the signing of Landry Ndikumana but the Burundian reportedly turned down the offer. Michael Makiadi is the marquee signing while the club also acquired the trio of Geoffrey Soro, Guddi ‘Kikiri’ Nasser and Dickson Asiku from Power. The departure of key players pushed some who were regarded as fringe like Deng Chuol into bigger roles. The bigger question hang on the healthy of key signings starting with Guard Chris Omanye who is yet to train with the team after head injuries suffered when he was attacked by thugs. How well has Syrus Kiviiri recovered after about two seasons of no action? Can Makiadi’s knees last the whole season?
Peter Cheng returns to the club and will be a joy to watch after finishing with an average of 14 points and 9 rebounds in Lower Division with Kampala Rockets.
The good news for Coach Stephen ‘Esco’ Nyeko is that there will be no pressure as all eyes are on KIU Titans for now.

Squad – Deng Chuol, Chris Omanye, Peter Cheng, Valentine Wadaya, Paul Odong, Nasser Guddi, Geoffrey Soro, Richard Ongom, Michael Makiadi, Syrus Kiviiri, Dickson Asiku, Alfred Okello

The Pretenders


Storyline: Timothy Odeke on the wheel

Timothy Odeke will be expected to perform Miracles at a demanding sleeping giant in Power. It promises to be another difficult i season for Power after the departure of some players including their two top scorers last season Innocent Ochera and Geoffrey Soro. Dickson Asiku, Guddi Nasser and Francis ‘Odom’ Kasinde have also left the club. The side has made good responses, but that has been in the front office including last season’s coach Bernis Ankunda who was named the Technical Director. But the recruitment has been lacking. Isaac Afidra who must be the longest serving player in the division, is expected to shoulder the biggest burden and will play a big chunk of minutes. Elvis Ssentongo, Imran Samad and Stephen Otoa are some of the recognisable faces from last season. Elvis Mutebi and Cesar Adoke are among the new additions, joining from KIU Titans and UCU Canons respectively. The Club has got a new sponsor in Dmark who return at the club, and there is hope that with their return, success can come along as the side continue their ‘goose chase’ for a sixth NBL title.

Squad – Elvis Ssentongo, Reagan Lemanika, Benjamin Bonza, Isaac Afidra, Imran Samad, Benon Wobusobozi, Stephen Otoa, Guellord Mobanza, Elvis Mutebi, Keith Emoru, Junior Kinzamba, Robert Tasire, Innocent Ocen, Ruot Tiem, Ceaser Adoke, Jonathan Kasilisimbi

UPDF Tomahawks

Storyline: Sisi kwa sisi
UPDF were my surprise pick of last season after picking 13 wins out of their 24 regular season games. And they almost pulled a shocker in one of their playoffs games with eventual winners City Oilers. David Okello and Edrine Walujjo, two of their best players last season, have left the club while Brian Opiyo moved to KIU Titans. But they have done some good business in the market too – Godwin Muhamireho and Livingston Kimambo join from Ndejje University, Cranmer Wamala was signed after ending his stay at UCU. They retained a big number of that squad from last season like Ferdinand Odama, Wilberforce Pirwoth, Arthur Wanyoto and Jonathan Egau among others. Coached by Baker Kyambadde, this side will not be an easy go for the so called big boys.

Squad – Daniel Emong, Jonathan Egau, Ferdinand Odama, Wilberforce Pirwoth, Livingston Kimambo, Alex Olobo, Jafar Remo, Cranmer Wamala, Collin Musiime, Jonathan Obukunyang, Andrew Gang, David Opolot, Godwin Muhamireho, Michael Kojo, Bernard Okumu, Arthur Wanyoto

The Chasing Pack

Ndejje University Angels

Storyline: Going Big
Ndejje Angels survived the drop last season and will be hoping for a better outing this timeround. There is at least some balance in the roster despite departure of some players like Godwin Muhamiriro. Jonathan Oketch is expected to be more involved after starting once in the only 14 games last season. And if you add the crafty and silky Haron Alinaitwe, Ndejje have the guards positions well covered. But their biggest asset is the lanky Joseph Kumbai whose height will give teams trouble to deal with. Coach John Omondi will be settling for nothing but playoffs places.

Squad – Monybai Ayiei, Trevor Mutyaba, Bangi Odeke, Harold Arinaitwe Junior, Samuel Ajak, Jonathan Okech Marshel, Junior Atula, Raymond Okile, Nyanzi Mahad, Vgny Kabongo, Joseph Kumbai, Bolton Rujumba, Kok Gol, James Obrack, Kenneth Serugo

Our Saviour

Storyline: Miracle Needed
Our Saviour will be battling for survival this season off a campaign where they won 11 out of 24 games last year. Malual Dier (JKL) and Maker Mayen (Victoria University) are big additions but Joseph Wacha, Moses Mugisha and Davis Asiimwe will be the rock.

Squad – Maker Mayen, Donald Bakara, Dier Malual, Joseph Wacha, Henry Ssebagala, Andrew Sendaula, Eric Hariko, Moses Mugisha, Sam Gombya, Davis Asiimwe, Daniel Mugisha, Isaac Polich, Kenneth Mesho, Alleh Okwenzi, Joel Icumar

JKL Dolphins

Storyline: Can Dolphins Come Out of their Shell?
JKL Dolphins will be without their two best players from last season –
Mabor Makol and Maluel Dier, the former was arguably the best big man in the league. In to cover the void is Fadhil Chuma from UCU Canons while David Kalala and Joseph Dramaza have also joined the Dolphins who have since day one struggled to match the success of their Ladies team. Jude Ochen and Brian Namake, provided they remain healthy, will be the key members of the team. A place in the playoffs is within reach but going past the first hurdle will be a big ask.

Squad – Martin Baraka, Jude Ochen, Denis Omara, Joseph Dramaza, Bluys Agengu, Derrick Katumba, Beinfait Lola, Brian Namake, Joseph Eletu, Jerome Kasingabalya, Joseph Chuma, Teko Kocus, Akris Ainomugisha, Gideon Ebwonu, David Kalala

KCCA Panthers

Storyline: Similar Blueprint
Coach Brian Wathum has retained almost the same roster he had last season including top performers like Martin Buluma, Daniel Gaaki, Wilson Otweyo and Emma Odongkara. The big addition is Salim Kisilu who returns in NBL after a spell in Burundi (last played for Power). They were eliminated by Nam Blazers in the first round of the playoffs last season. With the same players, KCCA will not struggle for chemistry, but they will need more than that if they are to achieve their set targets.

Squad – Martin Ouma, Daniel Ojoro, Gaius Mahamba, Alleni Victor, Daniel Gaaki, Salim Kisilu, Mawien Wol, Wilson Otweyo, Emmanuel Ateng, Mabor Tueny, Aaron Ojo, Emmanuel Odongkara

The Newcomers

Kampala Rockets

Storyline: Target is Staying Afloat
Kampala Rockets are the champions of the Men’s Division having beaten Rezlife Saints in the finals series last season. And they mean business after some good signings, although retaining their NBL status will be the main target. Leading their cast is Pol Mas, a Spaniard (former 3×3 player) who is in Uganda for work. He is expected to miss the opening games having travelled to Nairobi for some other duties. John Dombo and Emmanuel Okumu have joined from City Oilers while Francis ‘Kasinde’ Odom from Power will bolster their front court.

Squad – Pol Mas, John Dombo, Omara Augustine, Suka Fadhil, Adut Adut, Okumu Daniel, Peter Madol, Sam Garang, Kasinde Odom, Ochera Ochera, Gideon Kasasa

Rezlife Saints

Storyline: Youth and exuberance
The former Berkeley team is now under Resurrection Life Church in Lubowa which is Pastored by Pr. Daudi and Aimee Kyambadde, whose son Azariah Kyambadde is part of the playing roster. The team, comprising mostly of young players, is very athletic. And move with their cast of cheerleaders who played a huge role on their way up to top flight. Coach Daniel ‘Najja’ Juuko who recently announced retirement from playing, has trusted the boys who helped the side earn promotion, with few additions including former KIU Titans duo Michael ‘Mikey’ Othieno and Arnold Kisekka.

Mikey, as commonly known in the basketball circles will be the team’s fulcrum, and if he can stay focussed, motivated and available always, Rezlife will not be a walkover.

Squad – Thok Timothy, Michael Otieno, Charles Saverio, Apugi Takpiny, Arnold Kisekka, Azaria Kyambadde, Michael Ssematimba, Joshua Maiba, Prince Muhindo, Benjamin Kawumi, Richard Anyunva, Caleb Katumba, Ivan Otyek, Emmanuel Okot, Keith Alu, Michael Ssekibenga, Tresor Tambwe, Philip Kalanzi

Oilers Squad – James Okello, Allawi Ssenkubuge, Michael Ngui, Fayed Baale, Titus Lual, Ruai Luak, Ivan Muhwezi, Henry Mulira, Jimmy Enabu, Edrine Walujjo, Ben Komakech, Tonny Drilleba, Ceaser Kizito, Julius Tukunde



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